Tuesday, September 01, 2020

What Madness Washed Them Away?



Kirstin was a friend of mine from long ago—a companion of the raucous days of my youth and the bygone years when I was a just a secular kid in public high school, doing the things all secular kids did in the 90s. We met in gym class. Both of us had an aversion to running, so we found each other on the track in the early morning walking leisurely with the sports-averse kids while all the jocks passed us by lap after lap. We took to each other naturally; I was a punk rock kid with a skater mohawk, and she was a hippie girl with long, scraggly hair down to the small of her back.

We hung out a lot, both one and one and socially. We shared a common friend group and lived nearby. I got to know her sister and her mother. Nothing romantic ever emerged between us, but we sincerely enjoyed each other's company. She came from an Italian family and was feisty and opinionated. I was a burgeoning intellectual who was always up for a good argument or any sort of rich conversation. We never agreed on everything, but that was okay, because we had that sort of mutual fondness that makes friendship sweet and easy. We spent many late nights with friends in 24-hour diners sipping coffee and talking about anything and everything to the haze of cigarette smoke, back when you could still smoke in restaurants. We went on that way for about four years, weaving the memories that would become the tapestry of our adolescence. It was a very sincere and wholesome friendship.

Once when we were about 18 and it was the dead of winter, Kristin and I went to a party at some house where we didn't know the people there very well; they were mainly older guys of college age or even older. Booze flowed freely and Kirstin and I were soon inebriated. As the night wore on, some of the college guys began to get aggressive towards Kirstin. They were inviting her back to their rooms for sex, harassing her, and boasting that they'd have her that evening. We were too drunk to drive, and many party-goers were just crashing wherever they could find a spot. Kirstin confessed to me that she was terrified of going to sleep there in such a vulnerable state. There was one drunken guy in particular who was being extremely predatory. We discussed various options, like sleeping in the car, trying to drive home drunk, etc. We eventually decided to sleep together on a large couch. There was a sofa that there was broad enough for two people to lay down side by side; Kirstin laid on the inside, and I laid on the outside, sort of spooned up to her, in such a manner that no one could approach her without climbing over me first. We passed the whole night that way, sleeping peacefully, chastely, and without incident.

The following morning, we awoke at dawn when everyone else was still sleeping and left in her car. I still remember driving down the road as the sun crested the trees, with that "I am hung over and slept in my clothes feeling" while she smoked with the window cracked in her car and we listened to Blind Melon and talked about what happened. She was exceptionally grateful for my presence there that night and what I had done. I don't know what would have happened otherwise, but she firmly believed that my presence alone had stopped her from being assaulted or raped. And that night became like...a special moment of vulnerability that gave our friendship a unique depth and mutual respect.

Well, after high school we fell out of contact. I entered a spiritual crisis and converted to Catholicism. She moved to Europe. We had no communication for many years. With the advent of social media we reconnected, albeit from a distance and we did not have much interaction. I mentioned she was always kind of a hippie growing up, and as an adult she had definitively embraced the Left side of the political spectrum. But that was okay. I have a great diversity of friends from all different backgrounds. I saw her when she returned stateside once or twice. And I rejoiced with her when she got married to a wealthy European businessman and became a very well-to-do lady. My heart broke with her when she was diagnosed with a degenerative nervous disorder a few years back that affected her cognitive function. I prayed for her.

In short, life went on for her and I and affected our friendship much the way the passing of time affects many friendships. We strayed, we drifted, but the bonds that we forged in youth remained, buried beneath the accumulation of time.

Two months or so ago, on a Facebook post about Black Lives Matter, she suddenly emerged on my thread spewing vitriol, accusing anyone who would not get behind BLM of being racist, and demanding anyone who would not support BLM to unfriend her. I did not argue with her, although I modestly challenged her on a few points.

A few days later I noticed I was unfriended. All that personal history just...evaporated.

And I could tell many similar stories.

What happened to my friends?

What madness has washed them away?

If you have similar stories, please share in the comments.

14 comments:

K said...

Probably this: "But that was okay." Every step of the way, acquiescence and surrender. A naive belief that your own depth means their depth.

Anonymous said...

I have lost many friends over the years. The most recent was someone i’d been friends with for forty years. She posted something pro-mask and I simply posted an article under her post and asked her what she thought about someone not being able to wear one due to medical/physical difficulties. And, poof, when I went back to see if she had responded, my comment was gone, her comment was gone, and we were no longer friends. Just like that. She didn’t even answer my question. I was hurt and dumbfounded.

Mona Lisa said...

When I reverted to the Catholic faith later in life, I have a very good friend whom didn't really like the way I was developing and changing. Even though she had been brought up in a practicing Catholic home, and I hadn't been, I was learning things that she found hard to accept as necessary, especially in regards to Catholic Tradition and the Latin mass. My friend is going to an Anglican Church and sometimes a Catholic church. We have had many conversations over several years and there have been heated moments where she accuses me of certain opinions and attitudes which she finds anti-christian to some extent. If we get onto certain topics it can go quite badly. I think she regards some of the things I say sometimes to be bigoted perhaps? It seems alright for her to be confrontational towards me but not vice versa! My friend reminds me of the proverb, "Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an enemy." Now if my circumstances had developed differently, I may not have continued on with this friendship to the extent that I do. I don't really know but with all the difficulties and pressures at the present moment it's no wonder we all aren't behaving irrationally and being upset over real and or perceived problems in our relationships.
Then when I made friends with some Catholics at the parish, and they begin to get more traditional, even through your influence, if you know what I mean, they change as well and you find yourself watching it. People can change their groups of friends and be influenced by others who are in a group and it can just take one new person to do this or someone leaving the group etc. I know I'm stating the obvious here. There are dynamics which happen like the "inner ring"- C.S Lewis has written an essay about. It's an interesting observation which can turn a good person ever so slightly into doing things which can compromise them, abandon good friendships, hurt people etc.
I doubt whether it's going to a happy ending for your friend being caught up in BLM, especially if she has had health issues. Once you get sick, friends can abandon you anyway plus you don't have the energy to keep up with your usual activities etc. It may be years later when she realizes she could have handled the situation differently but for now unfortunately she's caught up in it. I can't see the BLM group being there for her when she's going to need it.

Scott Woltze said...

My wife finally "lost" a high school friend, R., over Covid, etc. They were joint editors of the local high school paper, and were very intellectual as well as aloof and acerbic towards their peers. My wife now regrets losing other long-time friends during high school by following R.'s self-righteous social-political wit.

Anyway, both went to good/great colleges, and R. became an AP reporter (among other news orgs). R. worked a state capitol beat, and slept around with gusto. Her most widely read piece was on how horse piss is recycled into other uses. I kid you not. God has a sense of humor, given how arrogant R. was, and how much she hated Christians and all things of God.

Eventually blogs/social media killed her job, and she got a law degree at Jesuit Fordham (still hating all things Catholic). At this point God decided to take it all away, and similar to UnamSanctum's friend, she was waylaid by intense but mysterious neurological problems, and she needed a hysterectomy to boot. Intense, prolonged suffering seems to be God's trump card for many hardened sinners, and He gave her both barrels. R. is much humbled and more human, but she is still an insufferable Lefty. Still, she has come a long way. Anyway, the Covid thing sent her into mass hysteria, and she attacked anyone who wasn't a panic-maximalist. She blasted my wife, of course, who stood by her all those years when she had almost no friends except whoever she happened to be sleeping with. Now they have gone their separate ways for the foreseeable future. My wife is actually relieved.

Anonymous said...

It can be tough at times. Especially if the subject is within the family. My Brother-in-law is pretty bad. Very left (NPR is center to him), and is all environmentalist, until it inconveniences him personally, then exceptions can be made. He has also hinted about "human trash" and "Thanos was right" re: population control.

I'd have nothing to do with him, if it weren't for my sister.

I also had a friend who shouted to me one day that my beliefs are "Fkin' Fables!!!"

I decided that if he felt that way, I'd no longer reach out to him. No fight or anything, but just did not call him. Eventually he called me, and we are back speaking again. I let it go and did not push, nor even bring it up.

People have passions, and they or most often out of control. I know this, because I am that way. We must make allowances.

Keep yourself steady, and give others the room that you'd like to have. Most things will work out. No need to accept everything, but no need to build walls, either.

Paul

Noucvnt said...

eh idk Paul, at least some walls are necessary. subsidiarity requires defense of the faith, family, ethnos and local community.
but yeah, can't keep any doors locked full time either.
patience is a virtue. it can be abused and turn to acquiescence though. or depleted and turned to hardness of heart.

relatedly, i wonder if Boniface could have been more forward with his friend, not only in matters of faith and morals, but also perhaps in a romantic sense. perhaps then she would change, as i doubt the European businesshusband is too religious. when women treat you as a friend, they often want you to acquiesce to them; they only fully submit to father, then husband. men don't tend to want as much as full agreement or submission with their friends, rather they usually have friends to do/say/share specific things with. men also tend to not care if women disagree with them, as they usually follow; this of course has degenerated into women pretty much disagreeing all the time and men slobbering for their attention. besides, men can also be disagreeable if hobbies are not shared; becoming just as women being cliquish, except in a different ways. for moderns, high school really never ends - in fact, currently society is held to "high school musical" standards.

Boniface said...

@Noucvnt

Not sure I get what you mean, but I never had an inkling of romantic interest in her. 100% platonic only. But by the time she was married she was too far out of my immediate circle for me to feel like I had any ground to offer advice one way or another.

Mona Lisa said...

@Noucvnt

"for moderns, high school really never ends - in fact, currently society is held to "high school musical" standards."

I find your comment interesting. Do you have time to elaborate on it?

Jack said...

The spirit of sectarianism and partisanship has done it for centuries and centuries.

Jack said...

Quote from Zhuangzi:

Confucius also went for an interview with Wen-po Hsueh-tzu, but returned without having spoken a word. Tzu-lu said, "You have been wanting to see Wen-po Hsueh-tzu for a long time. Now you had the chance to see him, why didn't you say anything?"

Confucius said, "With that kind of man, one glance tells you that the Way is there before you. What room does that leave for any possibility of speech?"

Yen Yuan said to Confucius, "Master, when you walk, I walk; when you trot, I trot; when you gallop, I gallop. But when you break into the kind of dash that leaves even the dust behind, all I can do is stare after you in amazement!"

"Hui, what are you talking about?" asked the Master.

"When you walk, I walk - that is, I can speak just as you speak. When you trot, I trot - that is, I can make discriminations just as you do. When you gallop, I gallop - that is, I can expound the Way just as you do. But when you break into the kind of dash that leaves even the dust behind and all I can do is stare after you in amazement - by that I mean that you do not have to speak to be trusted, that you are catholic and not partisan, that although you lack the regalia of high office the people still congregate before you, and with all this, you do not know why it is so."

https://terebess.hu/english/chuangtzu2.html#21

Anonymous said...

Been 16 yrs since I've had a friend outside of my Brother.
Yes it's extremely lonely + I live in permanent isolation.
My Brother has lost his few friends over personal issues + politics
post 2016.
Life sucks in the modern age + I don't see it getting better anytime soon.
Sorry for all of your all's losses.
God bless.

R. Toad said...

It goes beyond friends. It strikes at families. When treated to a rant by a relation, I quietly suggested that he actually read the BLM creed and then speak with me. This was met with scorn and derision. I will pray for him, but I do not let him infest my little corner social media, mostly out of consideration for those who may be reading my page.

Noucvnt said...

Boniface, perhaps i was too obtuse, and sorry for implying something romantic that was not. at any rate i meant that maybe your friend would have listened more if her husband was someone who could have led her better. that is, assuming the traditional teaching of husband leading wife and family still holds. you were a friend of course, but your influence could only go so far. specially not if your friend marries abroad, you will have even less influence, specially as a male.

Mona Lisa, i meant how social groups are pretty much structured just like high school in this modern society: where friendships are little interest cliques at times while all conforming to a big youth zeitgeist; and therefore it's hard to keep a friendship without totally conforming to the groupthink; which goes down with the lowest common denominator. that conformity is further enforced by the "high school musical" attitude of being nice and friendly to all, except to the one who finds objections to things, no matter how valid - he is cast as a "hater" and purged. of course, this is not a tirade against the young high schoolers who legit have trouble finding friends and community, however more as a call to all to embrace unity in Christ - instead of getting lost in eternal secular cliquing for domination of the playground/society.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my Workplace.
God bless
-Andrew